Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man and X-23!
The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2018)
Easily one of my most anticipated comics of the year is the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man. Despite Nick Spencer’s involvement (no, I’m still not over Secret Empire), the fact that Invincible artist Ryan Ottley is making this his first comic since the end of the Image series is more than enough to get me to stand up and pay attention. With an artist known for big, bombastic art like Ottley, it’s easy to expect that this opening issue will be a good showcase for him, but I’m more surprised by the fact that Amazing Spider-Man #1 seems to indicate that the Nick Spencer that wrote Superior Foes of Spider-Man is back as well.
Just when things seem to be going great for Peter Parker, the ol’ Parker luck rears its ugly head once again. Not only is Peter ostracized from his fellow superheroes, but he’s also lost his job (again), has a new, loudmouth roommate (who’s also the criminal Boomerang), and his reputation is on the line now that it’s been revealed that his Graduate degree was seemingly plagiarized from Dr. Otto Octavius (who was actually in Peter’s body at the time the paper was written). Things couldn’t be worse for Peter Parker, which is ironically when his series is at it’s best. But after a battle leaves him questioning his life choices, he turns to the one person that’s always been there for him…
No, I’m not going to tell you who that is, but I will say that it made this longtime Spidey fan extremely happy. In fact, I’m thrilled with how this entire issue turned out, and I was very hesitant because of Nick Spencer’s recent output for Marvel. You typically get two different kinds of Spencer: the one that wrote the hilarious The Fix and Superior Foes of Spider-man (which is still one of my favorite comics of all time), or the one that wrote the badly mishandled Secret Empire and Steve Rogers: Captain America. While I’m still not convinced that both of these Nick Spencers are the same person, I’m very happy to report that this issue is written in the style of Superior Foes Nick Spencer. The script is chock full of wit and humor, and perfectly balances everything that makes Spider-Man work. Spencer’s depiction of Peter Parker is pretty spot on, and while there’s a lot of catch up in his narration for new readers that will probably bore those of us who’ve followed Spidey for years now, Spencer presents it in a way that’s still pretty funny. Spencer isn’t still completely forgiven for Secret Empire, but this issue is a great step forward in redeeming him as a writer.
If Ryan Ottley is your main draw for picking this issue up, you’re in a lot of luck, as this issue is perfectly suited for his style. Ottley’s style is a great mix of Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, and a little bit of Chris Samnee, and he pulls out all of the stops here. Seriously, if you named ten things you’d want to see drawn in a Ryan Ottley issue of Amazing Spider-Man, at least six of them are in this issue. Ottley is clearly having the time of his life drawing this issue, and it comes through in every panel.
As one of the my most anticipated issues of the year, Amazing Spider-Man #1 had a lot to live up to, and it exceeded all of my expectations. This issue distilled everything I love about Spider-Man into one handy, if lengthy, issue. It’s the perfect comic to get if you want to jump in and check out Spider-Man’s current dealings, and with an artist like Ryan Ottley on board, it’s a real treat for your eyes as well. I’m beyond happy with the end result, and I can’t wait for the next issue.
X-23 #1 (2018)
Now that the original Logan has returned to the role of Wolverine (or at the very least is on his way to returning), Laura Hudson has returned to her old X-23 codename. But just because she’s no longer Wolverine doesn’t mean that she’s giving up any of her old missions. Alongside her clone “sister” Gabby, Laura takes it upon herself to track down anyone and everyone associated with the Weapon X program in Mariko Tamaki and Juan Cabal’s X-23 #1!
After tracking down a group of mutant mercenaries, Laura and Gabby make their way back to the X-Mansion to meet with Hank McCoy. McCoy has been secretly helping Laura track down former Weapon X associates, and he’s got a new lead that will bring her closer than ever to the people who helped create her. But at the same time, the Stepford Cuckoo triplets are acting weirder than usual, and may have their hands on a version of the Weapon X formula for their own means as well.
Tom Taylor left a major mark on the character of Laura Hudson with his All-New Wolverine series, so I had some pretty major concerns that Mariko Tamaki wouldn’t be able to fit into his shoes. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tamaki’s writing is pretty damn fantastic. Not only is her script pretty solid, but Tamaki’s characterizations of Laura and Gabby are spot on as well, which is no easy feat when compared to all of the work Tom Taylor put into the All-New Wolverine series. But Tamaki’s not only able to keep Taylor’s ongoing stories moving, she also adds some pretty great new wrinkles to them as well.
Juan Cabal’s art is also surprisingly great as well. I’ve never seen his work before, but his clean style works wonders for this series. There’s a great sense of motion to not only Cabal’s action scenes, but even in the ones where Laura and Gabby are just talking to one another as well. I’m sure Cabal’s done work for Marvel before, but I honestly think that if he keeps up this type of work that he’ll be another major player for the publisher.
I’m really happy that X-23 continues the awesome momentum that All-New Wolverine started. Laura Hudson is a great character that deserves a fantastic series, and after All-New Wolverine ended I was worried that Marvel would just forget about her. Luckily for us, that’s not the case.